Neuroscientist Allison Doupe.

Remembering Allison Doupe (1954-2014)

Allison Doupe was one of those people who somehow seemed immortal. She blazed with brilliant curiosity and warmed those around her with kindness and humor. But the undeniable truth is that cancer can take any of us. When I heard of the UCSF neuroscientist’s death in late October,  I was as shocked as though a beloved […]

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Photo by: greyloch

Deep diving mammals follow their hearts.

As an ocean lover and long-time fan of “The Little Mermaid,” I’ve daydreamed about plunging into the ocean and hanging with the dolphins, sea lions, and whales. I’ve considered getting SCUBA certified, but never gone through with it. The thick wetsuits, clunky air tanks and potential for the bends give my tranquil daydream a wake […]

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Kurz and Allison’s 1891 representation of the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) during the American Civil War. Image credit: U.S. Library of Congress.

Perpetual War

In the American Civil War, the United States fought itself in a bloody struggle that dragged on for four years. A new study out of the University of California, Santa Cruz shines light on an even longer – and seemingly endless – conflict within ourselves. This internal struggle takes place within our genome, between an […]

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The Dark Side of California Sea Otters

For many years, I thought California sea otters were cute and cuddly. Who can resist watching them playing in the ocean, often with a baby otter alongside? Cute sea otter imagery is everywhere, from event logos to plush toys to bumper stickers, because we love them so much. Sea otters also help keep the ocean […]

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Flash point: 
Science meets policy

Flash point: science meets policy

The story of the world’s first Ebola epidemic burns at the flash point between science and policy, an enticing yet frightening intersection that can make or break a writer’s credibility. During an after-dinner speech at the time when the outbreak is beginning to dominate the news, I grasp the value of health care policy and […]

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A passion brewing

For the past six years I lived under the cotton candy clouds and big blue sky of Albuquerque, home of the television series Breaking Bad. The show is about a high school chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin, and it’s great drama. But the most memorable scenes for me were not the tense standoffs with bad […]

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Please, stop reading The Mind Unleashed

There’s a scourge eating away at the quality of online journalism. It’s not just the partisan news outlets, the well-disguised native advertising, or the websites full of off-the-wall rants; it’s sites that publish such a range of material that the good reporting is indistinguishable from the bad. Take The Mind Unleashed, a relatively young news […]

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Image credit: aes256 via Wikimedia Commons |

Using body chemistry to track ocean predators

Open-ocean predators, like tuna and sharks, don’t settle down as happy homemakers, content to prowl amongst the corals of one reef. Instead, these hunters perform surprisingly long migrations, chomping on seafood from numerous marine ecosystems. The source of sashimi sushi, bluefin tuna can tantalize our taste buds. But, these tuna cost much more than our […]

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Invisible Itch: Is a Solution in the Works?

Here in the Santa Cruz mountains, poison oak is everywhere. My dog tromps through it, and I tromp after her. I feel fine. Presumably, this means I am one of the lucky 30 percent who are immune. It also means the dog and I could be covered in poison oak oil, and I wouldn’t know. […]

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“Monarch in May.” Image credit: Kenneth Dwain Harrelson via Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0.

Long Live the Monarch, an Ambassador for Nature

Monarch butterflies always take me back to elementary school. I remember watching and waiting for weeks as bright green caterpillars munched on milkweed plants in our classroom terrarium, then wound themselves overnight into snug chrysalises. Just writing ‘chrysalis’ makes me feel like I’m 10 again and peering at the dangling little insect sleeping bags, wondering […]

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